Where were you?
November 22, 1963 — anyone who was at least 6 years old that day will likely recall their whereabouts, how they learned of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and perhaps, like me, recall what clothing they had on. I don’t know why I remember the latter, but I do. I was in the sixth grade at the Oral Elementary School, Oral, S.D. Someone called the school and told the teachers what had happened, who in turn told the students.
Recently, thanks to a Mike Rowe Facebook post I learned about Clint Hill, special agent, United States Secret Service, the man who bounded up onto the car where JFK and Jackie were riding, after the first shot. Hill was assigned as Mrs. Kennedy’s agent and had worked that post since the inauguration.
After he retired Hill wrote three books concerning his time as a Secret Service agent. The most comprehensive is “Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford,” published in May 2017. Yes, Hill was on the job with each of these men. Eisenhower was my first president, though I barely remember; reading about the others brought back history of which I had forgotten the details including the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile crisis and told me some history that I never knew.
The book gives a look into the way each president treated the agents, the travels they took and a light prospective on the protection details. The agents were on the job and not part of the social scene, so they did not eat with the families. I understand that however I was sadly surprised to learn that the agents were not considered when meal times came around. They never knew when they would get to eat. It may be that rules prevented them from being distracted by eating on the job but that is not explained.
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Hill’s books were co-written by Lisa McCubbin, a writer who moves things right along, doesn’t get bogged down in minutiae yet gives enough information for readers to “see” the picture in their minds.
The second book, “Five Days in November,” was published in September 2014. “Mrs. Kennedy and Me,” is the third book, which was published in November 2012 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination. The information provided in the text of these two books are similar although each one gives different details.
All of the books contain photos that bring back the memories, not just of Dallas and that day, but of the Kennedy family, extended family and the lifestyle.
As an avid student of local history most of my studies concern people that are long since dead. To research those old stories we have to use newspapers, rely on leads from other sources then go down rabbit holes trying to validate the claims. I particularly enjoyed these books because it is the history that I lived and that is unusual for a historian. Especially if you are from that era you would appreciate these books. ❖
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